Facebook testing new comments design that looks like Messenger

Posted Mar 21, 2017 by James Walker
Facebook is trialling a new design for its comments feed on mobile devices that closely resembles the current formatting of chat threads in Messenger. It suggests the company is trying to make comments more conversational to increase engagement.
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons  posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons, posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Chris Cox, Facebook
The feature was spotted by Matt Navarra of The Next Web. The updated view, currently only available to some users, displays comments within "bubbles," akin to messages in Messenger. The time the comment was posted is displayed below the bubble with the "like" and "reply" buttons on the right.
The font size and spacing of the components is much larger than the current version of comments. The controls also have capitalised labels, again using the same design as Messenger. The updated feed looks bolder and more modern than the outgoing one, simplifying cluttered comments threads with lots of replies and potentially encouraging users to engage more.
Facebook has confirmed that it's trialling "multiple designs" for News Feed updates. It told BuzzFeed News that it's working on a "conversational way" to browse comments. Presumably, the new interface is meant to make it easier to join a discussion in the comments section of Facebook posts. It'll lower the barrier to entry, making the section more light-hearted and possibly lowering the volume of spam and offensive posts.
New Facebook comments view [Facebook  via BuzzFeed News]
New Facebook comments view [Facebook, via BuzzFeed News]
BuzzFeed News
"We are always working to make Facebook a more visual and engaging place to have conversations. So we're testing multiple design updates in News Feed, including a more conversational way to comment on posts," a Facebook spokesperson said to BuzzFeed.
Facebook comments are used in a myriad of different ways by the site's 1.8 billion users so any design change will have a significant impact on the app. The current condensed list view is beginning to look outdated, particularly on mobile devices where tapping the small "Like" and "Reply" links can be difficult.
Introducing a new format with styling borrowed from an app most people are familiar with could revive comments and invite more people to join in. However, Facebook may also inadvertently alienate long-time users and change the sense of community in some groups and pages.
Facebook is also working on other improvements to comments including a real-time indicator that lets you know when others are typing. You'll be alerted to new incoming responses before they arrive, letting you delay your own. This is another feature borrowed from messaging apps like Messenger.
In another test, the company is trialling "pop-up" posts which display like chat windows when browsing Facebook's website. It's designed to promote new posts you may be interested in to the forefront of your attention. These may be time-sensitive calls for help from a friend or breaking news on a topic you're interested in. You'll be able to respond without leaving the News Feed.